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Communicative competence

Warming up discussion 2.1

Brain-storm the concept of “communicative competence” i.e. the knowledge and skills a learner needs for successful communication and draw a “tree diagram” of this concept

Communicative competence



The idea of communicative competence started to develop with the construct of "linguistic competence". Linguistic competence is understood as innate knowledge of language (Chomsky, N. 1986. Knowledge of Language: It's Nature, Origin and Use. N.Y. P. 24. Aitchison, J. 1999. The Articulate Mammal. An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. L.,N.Y.P.180-182. Harley,T. 1997. The Psychology of Language. Psychology Press. P.141). Linguistic competence is only part of what is needed for communication.


Communicative competence encompasses the knowledge of how to use the language in the real world, without which the rules of grammar would be useless. (Hymes, D. 1971. On communicative Competence. University of Pennsylvania Press. Bachman, L. 1990. Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. OUP. P.87).


Communicative competence can be described as including grammar competence (knowledge of grammar rules, lexis and phonetics), pragmatic competence (knowledge of how to express a message), strategic competence (knowledge of how to express a message in a variety of circumstances), social-cultural competence (knowledge of social etiquette, national mind-set and values etc.) (another description of communicative competence can be found in Canale, M., and M. Swain. 1980.


“Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing”. Applied Linguistics 1: 1-47). Communicative competence breaks down into the two major components of the knowledge: knowledge of the language and knowledge of how to achieve the goal of communication


Communicative competence    
Knowledge of the language Knowledge of how to use the language  

Competence is not the same as ability. In order to be able to communicate, people need psycho-physiological mechanisms, i.e. communicative skills (After Bachman, L. 1990. Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. OUP. P. 84-85).


Communication is the process of interpersonal interaction and requires the knowledge of social conventions i.e. the knowledge of rules about proper ways to communicate with people.


In accordance with the social conventions, participants in communication perform communicative functions (to socialize, to inform, to persuade, to elicit information, to manipulate behavior and opinions, to perform rituals etc), communicative roles (leader, informer, witness, participant, catalyst, entertainer etc) (Ellis, R. 1994. The Study of Second Language Acquisition. OUP. P. 160). In order to perform these functions a speaker needs more than just the knowledge of the language.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 885

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